I’m back! And I can SEE! The lasik surgery was amazing. They took my glasses away and put about seventeen drops in each eye (ok, four) and pointed me at a door. I managed to find my way to the chair and follow the directions as well as expected. I really didn’t like the idea of having some sort of job to do. I know it was important to look right at the light and not look away. That makes sense. But I didn’t like it. However, I seemed to have held up my part of the bargain well. It went so fast. Once they got all the cutting done the actual lasering only lasted 51 seconds on my right eye, 45 seconds on my left. Astonishingly fast. The nurse would count the seconds down while the laser flashed and made a snapping sound. I could smell vaporized cornea and I lay there and wondered if this was a good idea at all. After the first eye was done they slid that cornea flap back in place and just like that, I could see. Right away, the light above me came into focus. It took my breath away. Then they did the other eye and sat me up. The first sight I saw was my boys, who had been watching the whole procedure with my mom through a window. They waved excitedly and I waved back, unbelieving. Everything was sort of misty, but I could SEE. The doctor smiled and pointed at a clock on the wall. “What time does that say?”
“Two-fourteen,” I breathed.
“Could you see it that well when you came in?”
“Doc, I had no IDEA there was a clock on that wall.”
Each day my eyes just keep getting better. Today I have better vision than I ever have. Ever. With glasses, contacts, ever. I keep stopping, mid-action, to stare at things like leaves on trees and the swirls of the clouds. I can see. I’m almost sorry for those of you who have never had poor eyesight, because you can’t possibly enjoy what you see like I’m enjoying what I see.
I know it may seem trivial, because it’s not like I couldn’t actually see before. I had perfectly functional vision with my corrective lenses. But now I wake up in the morning and can see my boys as they bounce on the foot of my bed. I can see in the shower, I can see in the middle of the night.
I can see.
I tear up sometimes, I’m so grateful.
But on to other matters. Um…NaNo. You may have noticed a thunderous silence on the subject of my NaNo novel. You may have assumed I abandoned my project. You would be wrong. I did not abandon it. I continued to work on it for all of November. I did not finish it. Oh, not even close.
So technically, I’m not a NaNo winner. But I have to tell you, I don’t feel all that unsuccessful. True, I only got about 11,000 words into it, but that is the longest fiction I have ever written. And what’s more, I’m not giving up on it. I kept plucking away at it, inch by torturous inch, and occasionally I would find myself looking up after hours of effort. I would get so absorbed in it I would find myself getting anxious on the behalf of my characters. I even cried once. In a coffee shop. It was fairly embarrassing. But that’s a success of sorts, and I’m fairly pleased with myself. I’m going to continue to plug away on it. I tend to doubt if I will have it finished by next NaNo, at this rate. But I will finish it eventually.
So I can’t claim to have won, like so many of you (I am in SUCH awe of so many of you), but that’s ok. Maybe next year. I’ll be sure not to plan any elective surgery for November.
¶ 11/30/2003 09:18:00 PM
Monday, November 24, 2003
Ok, everyone, brace yourselves. I won't be posting for a few days. I know, I know. Waves of disappointment. Soldier on, brave souls.
See, I'm having my lasik surgery done tomorrow. I went to the doctor's office today for my pre-op check and they did a very mean thing to me. They made me watch a video explaining the procedure and possible complications. ALL the possible complications. Picture this: I'm sitting there, madly signing forms, clutching my many boxes of eye drops and medications, and the patient relations person tells me I need to watch this video. "Oh, no," I explained kindly, "I don't want to know. But thank you." She smiled ever so sweetly and replied, "You have to, though. Otherwise we can't say you gave informed consent for the procedure, and that's not good." I tried patting her arm reassuringly. "It's ok, I'll insist I was informed, should I be asked." She patted my arm right back. I was annoyed with the dueling reassurances. "I'm sorry, our insurance requires this. Don't worry, it's short." She hit play and stepped out.
On screen a man explained earnestly that the procedure I have chosen is elective surgery. "This means that it's not necessary, that the only reason you're having this done is because you're so unbelievably self-centered and controlling that you'd risk blindness and death just because you don't feel like dealing with glasses or contacts anymore. Except you probably still will have to, because anything could happen. You could end up with worse vision than you started with. And BOY do we laugh when that happens!"
Or something like that. I managed to make my way through the whole thing, only closing my eyes when they showed the flap being cut in the cornea. Let me repeat: the FLAP being CUT in the CORNEA. At that point they talked about how sometimes that flap just falls right off. Whoops!
Anyhow, I survived the video. I survived three weeks of wearing my glasses. I have all my prescriptions and child-care and driving plans in place. By this time tomorrow I will be...a person with different vision of some sort. Hopefully better. I dunno. But I will be gorked on Valium, and not supposed to be looking at a computer for a few days. So I'll catch up with you all soon. Think happy corneal thoughts for me, and if I don't get the chance to say it before Thursday, happy Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for everyone who takes the time to read my ramblings, even you Canadians who already raced ahead of the rest of us to being thankful and overfed. Cheaters.
Oh, and if you're looking for a time-waster to fill my place, check out the ugly wedding dress of the day. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but this woman cracks me up.
¶ 11/24/2003 10:50:00 PM
Sunday, November 23, 2003
What a weekend we’ve had around here. Saturday dawned grey and cold. There were rumors flying around about a snowstorm moving in, and by mid morning it was here. Not that much snow, maybe three inches? Four inches? Two inches? I have no idea. It was enough snow to give the kids in the neighborhood kids a full weekend of sledding joy.
Since school started the neighborhood gaggle has dwindled. Kids who roamed free all summer long, slamming each other’s front doors and eating each other’s snacks have retreated to their own houses. Their own food, their own entertainment. Occasionally they would emerge, blinking in the light, to ride their bikes for a bit, but for the most part it has been quiet in these parts.
Odd then that what it would take to draw them all outside again would be a weekend like this one. Bitterly cold and snowy. All day yesterday and most of the day today they sledded down each other’s front yards. Every so often they would come inside for some hot chocolate. Today the whole troop ended up at my house. By the front door was a mountain of discarded soggy coats and gloves and hats. Kids with snow-scrubbed cheeks sat around the table, sipping hot cocoa and playing Monopoly. Max and Natalie retreated from the big kids into the other room for a game of Hi-Ho Cherry-O.
I am not a snow lover, myself. I whine when it snows. I retreat to a hot bath and threaten to stay there until spring. But after this weekend I may have to reconsider my bad attitude. Anything that draws the kids away from their GameBoys and SpongeBob can’t be all that bad. I still prefer summer, but this is kind of nice.
Remind me of that right around January, ok?
¶ 11/23/2003 09:33:00 PM
Friday, November 21, 2003
The boys and I took a batch of the Cub Scout greenery that just came in downtown to Dad’s work to deliver it today. It was lots of fun. No, I mean that. Tre was adorable in his uniform, handing people their wreaths and fidgeting while he repeated, “Thank you for your order.” Max, in true middle child fashion, was alternately happy to just be along or despondent that he wasn’t the one handing out the stuff. Raphael was in his Shoopershirt, and irresistible. None of the downtown hipsters could refrain from appreciating him. Wherever we went there were big smiles and exclamations of “Look, it’s Superman! Hi, Superman!” Raphael, being naturally inclined to accept adulation as he is, would barely acknowledge them and charge on.
When we were all done and on our way home, we stopped into a Starbucks. Raphael was tired and being difficult. He kept pulling things off shelves and hitting his brothers. Poor Tre and Max were ducking his blows with remarkable good humor. The coffee guy (barista, I know, I know) looked down and saw Raphael’s Shoopershirt and cape and laughed. “Hey, man, you’ve got my cape! I’m Superman!” Raphael stopped mid-rampage and glared up at the hapless fellow. “Yoo not Shooperman! AH Shooperman!! Meanie! Stoopid!” he shrieked.
Fortunately the coffee shop was filled with youngsters who thought that was cute, not disrespectful and cheeky. They all laughed and I bowed out with my troop.
Life’s such an adventure. Especially when you travel with the likes of Shooperman.
I took the boys to Burger King for lunch today. Love that salty meat! As I got their food the boys went tearing off into the great big child habitrail play place. This particular BK has a huge one, a good two stories tall. By the time I came in with their daily serving of poor parenting choices, a kid was racing through the tubes hollering, “Run away from the evil Superman!”
Three guesses who the evil Superman was.
Raphael was indeed in his Shoopershirt, complete with red cape. I chuckled at him as he came flying out the end of the slide. “Two minutes and you’ve already earned the title ‘evil’, huh? That may be your personal best, baby.”
One of the other moms came over to my table as I was unwrapping and sorting various burger-like things. “I’m so sorry about that whole…evil Superman thing. That was my son.” Insert weary sigh here. “I never know what he’s going to say.”
Allow me to interject with an observation here. There are many mothers of only children who parent their one child with consistency and reason. There are many mothers who became mothers later in life (say, after age 40) who are also just wonderful moms all around. There are many who are in the subset of the two groups who are great mothers who have a handle on the needs and limitations of their one kid.
However, there is a group of moms out there who came to motherhood late and only have one child and are entirely unable to cope. I don’t know why. They seem eternally flummoxed by the fact that these small people behave so consistently child-like. It’s not that they don’t love their kids; it’s not even that they’re not capable moms. They just wear themselves out, trying to keep their kids from being kids.
Such was this mom, mother to Sam – age 4 1/2. Sam was a delight, a loud mouthed active little bundle of boy. I have a soft spot for that sort of kid. Sam’s mom must have apologized to me seventeen times in the 45 minutes we were there. That was when she wasn’t racing over to the tubes to shout anxious instructions to her boy (“Sam, say excuse me to the little boy. I think you bumped his knee.” As if. “Sam, don’t go up the slide, go down the slide! Down the slide, Sam! Sam, don’t go up, come down! The rules say don’t go up the slide!”).
Luckily, I had brought in my newspaper, so after the boys went to play I had something to roll my eyes behind. However, after a few minutes of watching me not shout any instructions to the boys, she started asking me questions.
“Three boys? Really?”
No, I thought, I have only a reasonable TWO boys. SHOOT! Did I collect an extra again?
What I said was, “Yup.”
She sighed and turned nervously back to watch the activity.
“How do you ever get them all out of there?”
“Well, I say, ‘boys come out now.’ And they do, except sometimes I have to crawl in and haul out the two year old. I had to with the other ones when they were two, and now they pretty much understand what I mean when I say ‘come out now.’”
Another heavy sigh.
Tre was playing a fun game where he was falling from one level of the climbing area to another, sort of like a marble sifting its way down through a ker-plunk game. He’s a solid wee boy, and it sounded very impressive. Sam’s mom turned to me, alarmed.
“Do you see what he’s doing?”
Alarmed looks from me to him.
“Don’t you worry he’ll hurt himself?”
“I figure if it really hurts he’ll stop.”
Max approached Sam to see if he wanted to play. Sam, who had just started playing with someone else, loudly announced that fact. Sam’s mom winced and apologized to me. I shrugged.
“They’ll work it out, I’m sure.”
Well, the rest of the time went on much like this. She would be horrified or apologetic about something that was happening in the habitrail. I would shrug and read my paper. I’m sure she thinks I’m the worst sort of neglectful mother. Oh well.
I was so enjoying upsetting her with my calm that I particularly liked our leave-taking. Raphael had indeed made a dash for the innards of the play place when I announced it was time to go. I hauled him out and he started screaming. Although he’s much better today, screaming will cause him to cough. And he did. And then he gagged on his coughing (something that is sort of an issue for Raphael). I was talking to Sam’s mom at the time, and when he started gagging I knew what was going to happen. So without missing a beat I held my hand in front of his mouth and caught the wee handful of lunch that came back up. Orange soda too.
Under normal circumstances I might have gagged a little myself. But today I was enjoying her utter horror so much I just blinked and asked mildly, “Do you have an extra napkin?”
Every life has its perks.
¶ 11/20/2003 09:25:00 PM
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
I’m sitting here, far too tired to blog (aside here, I just typed “fart oo tired to blog” and snickered like a little boy. I need to get out more). Allow me to treat you to a few snapshots of my day.
Raphael is sick. Raphael deals with illness much like we all deal with illness. He grows a touch whiny and wants his mama to hold him all the time. Well, isn’t that how you feel when your nose is runny and you have a cough? Ok then. He also has slightly less impulse control and slightly more dramatic reactions to any negative input in his day. Are you getting that? Raphael with LESS impulse control and MORE drama. This is why I’m tired.
On the desk in front of me is a piece of paper that Max was writing on. I’m not sure of what some of it says, but it starts “NO REDEN.” Get that? It means “no reading.” It’s a note to his Amma, and a long story at that, but isn’t that a fine example of early phonetic spelling? The boy is brilliant, I tell you. Now if I can just teach him to keep track of pens and pencils. Today we were in the van and he requested a pen. He wanted to work on another note. I had just given him one of MY pens yesterday, so I asked him where that one was. He had NO IDEA and was SHOCKED that I would expect him to know. Ok then. I gave him another pen. This evening I was looking for something in the van and found on the floor in front of his car seat nine, count ‘em, NINE pens and pencils.
Tre is almost done with book # 30 of the Magic Treehouse series. He’s thrilled with those books. The other morning I heard him wake up before I did and waited for him to bounce into my room, demanding breakfast. But he didn’t. I waited. I heard slow steps in the hall. Slow steps on the stairs. What the heck was he doing? Finally curiosity got the better of me and I got up to see what he was doing. He was walking down the stairs, reading his book. One. Step. At. A. Time.
He couldn’t stop reading long enough to walk down the stairs. Now, that’s cool. Um...probably not a good idea, but cool.
Mom and I took the boys to a huge dinosaur exhibit today. It was very cool, many animatronic dinosaurs growling and posturing above us. Raphael teetered between scared and amused the whole time we were there. One minute he’d mutter anxiously, “Dey not gonna hurt me. Dey can’t hurt me.” And then the next minute he’d chuckle, “Yook at da cute dinosaurs! Awww…”
Max wandered through the exhibit, utterly engrossed in it all, until about an hour and a half had passed. Then it was like a shutter clicked down behind his eyes and he was done. He wanted to be carried. He wanted to eat something. He wanted to go home.
At one point we were having a snack (hoping to help Max recover) and Tre was…well, he was bugging me. He wanted to go to the gift shop, so his method of trying to make that happen was to ask repeatedly if we would go to the gift shop. “Maybe,” I’d reply, “let’s wait until we’re done and see if everyone wants to.” Ten, maybe twelve seconds would pass. Mom or I would try to finish a sentence, Tre would make a joke about some gross bodily function, I would give him the look, and he would respond with another request to go to the gift shop.
Finally I forbade him to even say the words “gift shop.” I threatened to make him not only miss out on this gift shop but the next seventeen gift shops we encountered. I snarled and generally acted like a very mature adult. Hah.
Tre shrugged and bounced off to look up the nose of some dinosaur while we waited for Max to finish his snack. I sighed to Mom, “He’s just so persistent sometimes. Frankly, he drives me nuts. Why is he like that?” Mom snorted at me. She’s so short on empathy sometimes.
“He’s an eight year old boy. They’re like that. He’s perfect.”
I shook my head at her. She clearly didn’t understand what I have to deal with.
This evening Tre’s Cub Scout den had their meeting at our house. Dad taught them a little about tools and helped them all build their own tool boxes. Dad is a saint. Dad is a genius. Dad, inexplicably, did not kill even one of them - despite the fact that he had power tools in his hands at times and no jury in the country would have convicted him. Dad even enjoyed himself. Thank God for my Dad.
Let me repeat: Thank God for my Dad.
I watched the proceedings, only jumping in to lay out newspaper and once to pull Zachary off another kid. Zachary was into tackling people for much of the evening. Dakota was into muttering, “blah, blah, blah,” whenever someone was trying to give instructions. Parker liked to fill any lull in the conversation with the news that he had gotten grounded that day. Repeatedly.
And it’s not that they were doing weird things, it’s that they were so very…dare I say…persistent about it. It was like being dropped in the middle of some mental hospital, filled with little OCD patients. Those small sized males of the species…they’re downright odd.
Watching the boys be their own weird selves in my living room, I had to admit that Tre is a pretty normal eight year old. Mom was right. Again.
¶ 11/18/2003 09:58:00 PM
Monday, November 17, 2003
Hey, anyone notice my nifty new set of links? Yes, I finally figured out how to add those to my blog template. *whew*
AND, I’d like to add, I figured it out all on my own. Which is to say that I sought out the information on my “intellectual strata,” as my brother Josh would put it, and applied that information. Not, I suppose, that I actually figured it out all on my own. Nonetheless.
There they all are, the many blog offerings that have caught my eye. Enjoy. Also, please note that at the top of my links list is the suggestion that you should “Email me!!” Please feel free to click on that and send me an email should your little heart desire. Especially if I messed up something in adding all y’all’s blogs. Do set me straight.
This afternoon, while Tre and Max were in school, Raphael and I ran some errands. I suppose technically I was the one running the errands, Raphi was running me ragged. He just has so many IDEAS. Anyhow, as we were on our way home, driving up our street, he sang out from the back seat, “Mama? Can ah watch teebee?”
“Sure,” I replied. Love the teebee. I know, that’s not a good thing…but I can’t remember why anymore. Raphael was gazing out the window and another IDEA occurred to him.
“MAMA,” he shrieked, “we can go for a walk!” I looked out at the thrashing branches of a tree in the neighbor’s yard. It’s still fairly windy around here.
“Well…we could, but look how windy it is. It looks pretty cold and yucky out there. Do you think you would rather take a walk or watch TV?” I know, this was playing dirty. I didn’t want to go for a walk. Raphael looked out the window for a moment then replied,
”Aktually, ah’m not sure. Yet me fink about it.”
I would suspect he’s brilliant beyond belief, my two year old who is actually not sure and needs to think about it.
But he then spent a half hour watching the Wiggles in slack-mouthed amazement, so maybe not.
He is darn cute, though.
I was reading here a story about a woman whose artistic ability was temporarily stunted by the cruelty of a teacher. It reminded me of an experience I had in fifth grade.
Before fifth grade I’d always vacillated between a few career ambitions. I would teach Special Ed, and probably be a forest ranger (I never claimed to be a cool kid). Oh, and I’d be a writer.
That was a given.
Well, one day in fifth grade I was writing a one-page essay in class. I don’t remember what it was about, but I was proud of it. I took it up to the teacher, Mr. Salazar, and happily dropped it on his desk. I was fairly full of myself, I like to imagine in a good way.
After recess Mr. Salazar handed back our essays, and on the top of mine was a big red “D”.
I was stunned.
There must be some mistake, I thought. I trotted my “D” right up to his desk and asked for an explanation. Well, I hadn’t used the margins properly, stopping an inch before the edge of the page. I’d written with characteristic haste and enthusiasm, slopping all over the page.
I got a “D” because of the margins.
I walked slowly back to my desk and asked the girl next to me if I could look at hers. It was an “A” paper. She had written about four sentences, slowly and carefully in her lovely balloon-round handwriting. She’d written “alot” instead of “a lot.”
I compared my paper to hers, and noticed for the first time how messy mine looked. I was shaken to realize that I didn’t know what people actually considered good writing. That it had less to do with the words and ideas I loved than it did with the tidiness of the margins.
I didn’t stop writing. How do you stop writing? I stopped showing what I wrote to people. I hid my notebooks full of earnestly felt words written in my messy, cramped hand. The papers I handed in were carefully crafted between the lines, literally and figuratively. “A” papers, for the most part. Fall-off-your-chair boring.
Only now, this year, have I admitted to being a writer.
And I’ll use my margins as I please.
¶ 11/16/2003 08:41:00 PM
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Windy day today. Not breezy, but howlingly windy. I stepped out of the van this afternoon at the grocery store and the wind wrenched the door from my hand and smacked it into the car next to me. Thank God, into the rubbery bumper thingy on their door. I hate that kind of wind. It feels threatening, ominous. I watched newspaper and leaves swirl past the windows and worried about what might be loose out there, sailing away to get wedged under a fence in some abandoned lot.
When we pulled onto our street after the grocery store trip, Tre noticed that there were tumbleweeds careening along down the sidewalk. One was snagged by a rosebush next to our driveway, and he excitedly begged to be let out of the van. He wanted to free the tumbleweed from the rosebush and toss it back into the wind.
So I let him out, and pulled into the garage. After a few minutes he came bounding into the house with pink cheeks and that glow. That thrilled glow. The dizzyingly wild wind was exhilarating to him. He dragged Max outside with him and together they chased tumbleweeds down the street. They would snatch up a weed that was taller than them and wider than their arms could reach, and bring it back to show me. Their prey, conquered by the fearless warriors of the wind. Then they would toss it above their heads, where the wind would grab it away and fling it down the street.
They caught something like nine tumbleweeds and brought them to our front yard before releasing them again. I stood at the large front window and nodded, impressed, at their prowess. Max did bring one particularly large specimen in, suggesting it might make a nice decoration, but I unfeelingly nixed that idea.
I wanted to order them both inside, to wrap blankets around them and lock the doors against that howling wind.
But children are wild creatures, and sometimes you just have to let them hunt tumbleweeds in a wind as wild as they are.
¶ 11/13/2003 09:28:00 PM
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
I have a problem of sorts. An issue, if you will. See, I've been giving the boys Honeycomb cereal for breakfast. Hey, they like it. I know, that alone should qualify as an issue in my life. After all, the main ingredients of Honeycomb cereal are...(checking the box)...sugar, preservatives, bad parenting choices, and more sugar. And sucrose.
Sadly, that's not my issue. I'm perfectly ok with serving them such horrible food for the most important meal of the day. Not proud of it, perhaps, but I can live with myself. After all, morning is not my best time. Recently Tre said to me, "Mama, you're the best!" I had just granted him some boon...GameBoy time or something, I don't remember. I raised an eyebrow at him and asked, "Would I still be 'the best' if I hadn't just given you what you want?" and he replied, "Oh, yeah! You're always the best...except maybe a little bit in the morning. You're a little grumpy in the morning."
Like it's my fault morning comes so flippin' early.
Off the point... or as someone says, thanks for playing.
No, my problem is that whenever I pull that big yellow box out of the cupboard I start singing, "Honeycomb's big - yeah, yeah, yeah! It's not small - no, no, no!" Remember that jingle from when we were kids? "Honeycomb's got a big, big taste! Big big..." Right about there my memory falters. Hey, I don't know how I know as much as I do. We didn't even own a TV for most of my childhood, and when we got one we were required to turn down the sound for the commercials.
But somehow that song lingers in the murky recesses of my brain. And I've passed this particular curse on to my boys. They are singing the jingle (or as much of it as I can remember) too. I feel guilt over that.
And yet, somehow, the fact that my loyal readers are going to be persecuted with that rattling through their minds all day...that doesn't bother me all that much.
I was in the family room, picking up the same four million books I picked up yesterday and the day before and the day before and the day…
Wait. Off track there.
From the kitchen I heard Raphi’s voice pipe up, registering great alarm.
“Oh no! Ah bwoke it!” I winced, but didn’t jump up immediately. “I broke it” can mean “I tore the tiny bit of paper from the band-aid wrapper I’ve been carrying around” or “I knocked over the stack of blocks I’ve been playing with” or “Watch Mama jump when I say this.”
Or sometimes it means “I broke it.”
He came running over to my side, a picture of concern. “Come here, Mama! Ah bwoke it!”
“What did you break, baby?”
“Ah bwoke…” he cast a desperate glance over his shoulder, searching for the word, “dat white one! Ah bwoke de one white one!” Ok, then. Possibly he actually broke something. I hauled my aging self up off the floor and took his proffered fat hand. He trotted me into the kitchen, where I found the “one white one” that he bwoke. That would be an egg. And apparently before becoming alarmed about it he danced about in it.
Tre and Max came tearing into the kitchen. You know how dogs can smell fear? Boys can smell a mess. They were mightily impressed, and wondered if they might not get a turn with the eggs.
I said no and shooed them out. I scooped my wee angel Raphael up to sit on the counter so I could wash off his feet. Then I set him down, instructing him not to touch the eggs anymore. “Ok, Mama. Jus’ one egg?”
“No eggs. Do not touch the eggs or I will swat your bottom.” He was taken aback by my unreasonable stance on the issue, but agreed. As I mopped up the egg slime he watched intently. I tossed the last gooey paper towel in the trash and he nodded with satisfaction.
“Dis was a job for Shooperman,” he explained, and swaggered away.
Well, thank heaven for Shooperman.
¶ 11/11/2003 09:16:00 PM
Monday, November 10, 2003
Oh, the NaNo novel is not going well. Not at all. Here it is, the tenth, and I’m at just over 7,000 words. This. Is. Not. A. Good. Thing.
And, I’ve decided, not my fault. See, I was going to catch up on a good chunk of writing today at Starbucks when I had my child-free Monday morning. And all was going well. Tre and Max were safely tucked into their classes at Hope. Raphael was in caring hands. I, well I’d taken a half hour out of my productive morning to go to the chiropractor, but this was a good thing. Trust me.
So there I was, kid-free and well adjusted (spinally, anyhow). I had a pumpkin scone and a cup of insanely strong coffee. I like to order the “bold” coffee of the day and sneer at them when they ask if I want room for cream. As if.
Anyhow, I sat my happily caffeinated little self down in the corner and pulled out my laptop. I pulled up the file and skimmed what I’d written so far. I frowned at it a moment, gave myself a little pep talk encouraging the prodigious writing of bad fiction. Don’t make it good, make it lengthy! I poised my fingers over the keys. I took a deep breath and typed “Eve was-“
“Hey, what kind of laptop is that?” Someone asked, clearly not noticing that great literature was happening. I glared at him, then made a show of looking at the big “DELL” written on it.
“Blue,” I said, “and grey.” He nodded, perhaps a bit confused. I went back to Eve.
“Are you on-line?” he persisted. I gave a deep sigh, blew my bangs out of my face, and looked at him.
“Oh, because you know this is a T-Mobile hot spot,” he said helpfully.
“It’s a fairly distracting spot too, apparently.”
“Heh, heh. Do you come here a lot? I think you were here last Monday.” He clearly wasn’t taking the hint, so I smiled at him and pulled out my big ammo, the great man deflector.
“I come here on Mondays because it’s the only time I’m not with my three kids.” Sweet smile from me. Uncomfortable silence from him. And I went back to Eve.
So if I’m behind in my NaNo goal, I’m sure it’s the fault of that guy and the two minutes of my day he stole.
And I am not PMS’d.
I just wanted to drop in for a moment here to give you a wee snapshot of my life. I was standing in the kitchen, trying to load the dishwasher. I say trying because Raphael was helping me. He was not in a good mood, because his Appa had gone off with his Max, and left him at home. Plus, his Tre was downstairs, playing GameBoy, not entertaining the ShooperToddler. On top of all that, his Mama was just being annoying, with all these arbitrary rules like “Don’t stand on the washer door. Don’t throw glasses at the floor. No, you can’t have the knife.”
Life is hard for Raphael.
So he was getting between me and the dishwasher, pushing on my legs, whining, and generally making life difficult. When he meandered off and found a deck of Uno cards to play with, I didn’t object. When he took all the Uno cards out and scattered them on the floor, I didn’t mind one bit. He was content. He was out from under my feet. Peace reigned.
Well, he eventually got tired of the cards and wandered off. I, being the good mommy I am, picked the cards up. No sense leaving them there to get stepped on. I sorted them back into a neat little pile and tucked them back in their little basket, and went back to the dishwasher.
Four seconds later Raphael came into the kitchen, and spied the missing pile of cards.
“Wheh dey GO?” he shrieked.
“I picked them up,” I responded mildly. He scowled at me, crossing his fat little arms across his chest.
“Yoo mess it up!”
“No I didn’t! I cleaned it up.” He snatched the basket of cards off the counter and dumped the contents back on the floor. He meticulously scattered them, then stood up and glowered at me.
“Don’ mess it up.” And he marched out.
Just can’t win some days.
¶ 11/08/2003 10:16:00 AM
Thursday, November 06, 2003
My sons have discovered “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” Remember that show? Bob Saget being cheesy, introducing video evidence of our decline as a culture? Many, many shots of pants being pulled down and men getting whacked in the groin? Well, it lives in all its rerun glory on Pax, and my sons think it’s pure genius. They like to imagine scenes that would make good AFHV fodder.
Tre’s fairly rational about what he thinks might make a good video. For instance, he thinks a clip of Claire at the sliding glass door might be funny. See, Claire has a cat door right next to the sliding glass door. If no one’s around, she goes in and out the cat door just fine. But if anyone is sitting at the table next to the door, she stands outside and gazes pitifully at them. If you ignore her, she will stand up and paw at the door until you stand up and open it for her. Well, until I open it for her. Mom prefers to glare at her and tell her repeatedly that she can go through the cat door if she wants in. Claire paws, Mom lectures, this can go on for some time. Sheesh, what a stubborn…um, cat.
Anyhow, Tre thinks this would make a funny video, complete with silly voice over. “You could do Claire’s voice, Mama, and be like, ‘Hey, let me in!’”
Max, on the other hand, has something more…elaborate in mind. His scenarios go something like this: “I’d be outside, right? And I’d be just lying there like this?” (Perches precariously on the arm of a chair, eyes closed, head lolling back) “And then there would be a bunch of…ketchup, like maybe a pool of ketchup, and someone would grab my foot and I’d go ‘Aaaaaaauuuggh!!!’ and SPLAT! Into the ketchup!” How the ketchup would get there is clearly not his problem.
Raphael, with his usual clarity, has homed in on the very heart of the show. After watching the show he marches around saying things like, “Mah booty! Heh, heh! Aaaaaah! Pbbbbth! You booty!”
Pretty much sums it up, don’t you think?
¶ 11/06/2003 09:21:00 PM
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
Ok, for all of you who have been clamoring to hear about my NaNo progress, here it is, my NaNo Q and A session. Please understand, these Q’s are, for the most part, not actual questions I’ve been asked so much as questions I’m sure someone wants to ask. Except some of them are actual questions. It’s my blog, I get to play by my rules. So there.
Q: What the heck is NaNo?
A: Good Q. NaNo is short for NaNoWriMo.
Q: Um…I’m still not clear on what that is.
A: You’re an idiot.
Q: And you’re ill-tempered and mean. Have you been writing too much?
A: Why yes, I have. See, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, which is short for National Novel Writing Month. The NaNo challenge is to write a novel (50,000 words) during the month of November. I signed up for this, despite the fact that I write lousy fiction and have never finished so much as a short story, much less a novel.
Q: How’s it going?
A: You’re an idiot.
Q: No, really. How’s it going?
A: Not bad, actually. I mean, I have about half the word count I wanted to by now, but I find myself very involved in the actual story. I sit down, determined to crank out X number of words and instead find myself all involved in the next scene. And there keep being next scenes. I had this all planned out and already it’s gone off the course I’d planned – but I think that may be a good thing.
Q: How many words do you have?
A: I’m starting to really dislike you.
Q: Oh, come on, ya sissy.
A: Ok, as of this moment I have 5,106. Clearly not enough, especially since I’m having that eye surgery on the 25th, so I should probably be done by then. On the plus side, I am meeting my goal of one pretentious comment about my novel per day.
Q: Just one?
A: You know, I could probably beat you up.
Q: What’s your book about?
A: Well…it’s about a woman going through a divorce.
Q: Clever. Wonder where you EVER came up with that?
A: Look, it’s not about me! This woman has two kids, and one of them happens to be a girl. So there. Besides, it takes a…turn of sorts that clearly isn’t inspired by my life.
Q: A twist? What is it?
A: The divorced woman finds and kills her smart-mouthed Q asker. No, actually, it’s – do you REALLY think I’m gonna tell you the twist? Why would I take away the last reason for you to read it?
Q: That brings up a good point. Are you going to post excerpts from your work in progress like some of your brave and amazingly talented NaNo cohorts?
Q: Why not?
A: I’m neither as brave nor as talented as they are. Plus, I find that scrutiny during the creative process inhibits the organic blossoming of the story. (In case you’re keeping track, there’s my pretentious comment of the day.)
Q: Is it a good novel?
A: No. Oh nooooooo. But that’s not really the point of NaNo. The point is to…I forget, but it’s ok to write a very bad novel. And I’m doing my level best.
There you go, loyal readers. If you have any more questions, feel free to submit them in the comments section. I, being consumed as I am by the creative process, can’t promise to answer any of them – but that’s life with an artist, I suppose. (Lookee, TWO pretentious comments today! Yay, me!)
¶ 11/05/2003 10:29:00 PM
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
I went to the eye doctor today. This is not an unusual experience for me. I have the eyesight of some doughy underground dweller. Useless squinty myopic eyes, mine. I remember the day my mom realized I needed glasses. I was ten, and she was helping me make lemon aid for the stand I had with my brother. (Aside here, since I last wrote about the lemon aid stand I've discovered that my brother did not, as I thought, set up the stand on his own. Mom raced home from work to set it up for us. With typical childhood self-centeredness I came out of school to see Josh sitting there and assumed he did all the work. Thanks, Mom.)
Anyhow, that morning Mom was helping me make the lemon aid and we couldn't find the blue and white bag of sugar. I was hunting in the cabinets on one side of the kitchen when she found it on a shelf on the other side. "Is this it?" she asked, holding the bag up. I turned and squinted. "Can you see this?" she quizzed. I squinted harder. "Sure."
"I mean without squinting." I looked at her, baffled. How do you see things without squinting?
Well, it really wasn't a surprise that I was near-sighted. She was near-sighted, and this apple didn't fall far from that tree. What really bugged me is that my eyes turned out to be worse than hers. Not too many years into wearing glasses it turned out that I needed a stronger prescription. MUCH stronger. Not fair. I also wound up two inches shorter than her, which is a different subject but also an injustice that bothers me greatly. Don't ask me to explain it, I just don't think it's right.
Well, my eyesight's bad. Really bad. Bad enough that after the very first test today the tech at the office said to me cheerily, "Wow, you're one nearsighted little lady, aren't you?"
Yes. Yes I am.
Only for three more weeks.
I'm getting them lasered. Lasik, actually - whatever the heck that means. The doctor tried to explain it to me, but I shivered and begged off on this particular educational experience. Call me a wimp, but I just don't want to hear about flaps being cut in a cornea. MY cornea. I trust he knows what he's doing. He comes very highly recommended. Gimme my valium and numbing drops and have at it, Doc.
At one point, as I was waiting in the exam room, I studied this poster. It showed a cross section of a healthy eye and then ones of eyes that don't function properly. In a normal eye the light passes through the cornea and is focused to a point that hits the optic nerve precisely. But in a myopic eye, like mine, that point doesn't quite reach the nerve. That wedge of light penetrates my eye and falls short, petering off into the fuzzy mess I see without my glasses. The fuzzy mess I've always seen.
And now they tell me they can change that. They can re-shape my very eye, so when I wake up in the middle of the night I can glance over and read a bedside clock. Wow, I'm gonna have to get a bedside clock.
Three weeks from today, and I'll have normal eyes. It's like magic, like going into an office and having the doctor tell me, "Sure, come in three weeks from now and we'll make you able to fly. Financing available."
I remember when I got my first pair of glasses. I was amazed by all the details the world held. The individual leaves shimmering on trees. Birds, SITTING on telephone wires. Heck, telephone wires! Who knew?
That was a miracle then. Then six years later came contacts. They ranged from mildly uncomfortable to blindingly painful, but the vision was better. No frames in the corner of my sight. That was a miracle.
Now this. I don't think I'll be able to really believe it until it's done.
I wonder if they can make me taller too.
The boys have been going to Hope School for two months now. They’re doing very well. Tre took to it right away with characteristic purpose and good spirits. Today, when I asked how school went he replied with a hearty, “Great! I had a great day! In Art we learned how to draw Peter the Pumpkin Eater.” Max, true to form, took a while to warm up to it. The first few weeks he wasn’t sure he really wanted to go back. Then he said he wanted to go, but come home at lunch. Finally, today, when I asked him how his day was he answered, “It was GREAT. I liked everything about today.”
Raphael is the only one who doesn’t care for this whole school idea too much. He’s ok for the first half of the day, when he’s with my friend Heather, torturing her daughter Iona. That’s good clean fun. But when I come to get him at noon, he immediately wants to go get “da boys.” Enough playing around, it’s time for his brothers to come home.
Today, when I picked him up, he raced down the stairs and hopped in his car seat and announced, “We go get da boys now.”
“No, honey,” I said, “it’s not time to get the boys yet. Let’s go have lunch.” He sighed at my obstinacy and declined to respond to my inane suggestion of lunch. He did cheer up somewhat when I got him a cheeseburger, especially when I let him drink one of those disgusting Kool-aid squeeze bottles of toxic juice with it. That’s always good. We sat at the table, just Mama and son, enjoying our Sonic goodies. We shared ketchup and counted fries. It was good. He ate at least two tablespoons of food, and pushed the remainder away. “Ok, we go get da boys now.”
You may be getting a sense of what the rest of my afternoon was like. Finally, finally, the hour arrived. I sang out excitedly, “Hey, Raphi! Let’s go get the boys!” His eyes lit up, and he jumped down from the couch. “Well…OK! Ah can hop in!” And he trucked off to hop in (his car seat that is). The whole way to the school he chattered about da boys. “Ah can hug dem and git dem and tell dem ‘ah miss you’ and hug dem…”
We arrived and parked and Raphael was straining at his car seat. “Wet me OUT! Ah git da BOYS!” We hustled in, only to be forced to wait outside Max’s classroom for a torturous three minutes. But finally the door opened, and Max came bouncing out. Raphael rushed up to him, shrieking, “Hi, Mats! Mats! Hi!”
And then he punched him in the stomach.
Not too hard, because Max laughed and patted his head. “Hi, Raphi. Did you miss me?” Raphael turned on his heel and crossed his arms. “No. Ah’m Shooperman.” He looked at me. “Can ah go punch Twe?”
I said no, but he did anyhow.
¶ 11/03/2003 09:46:00 PM
Sunday, November 02, 2003
I’ve tried to start this blog entry about six times now. I’m not sure what to do here, because today has been a huge and terribly emotional day. Yet I don’t know how to explain all of it…
I’m an Episcopalian. Or at least I was until today. Now, my fear is that there are people who will read that, and if you’re aware of what’s going on with the Episcopal Church you’re thinking, oh my. Kira’s homophobic. I’m not. I hate that word, by the way, because what it means is “afraid of sameness,” not at all what it’s intended to mean. But that’s not the point. The point is that I’m neither afraid of sameness nor anti-gay. But my church is now saying that the scripture I hold as sacred is disposable. Re-writable.
And I say it’s not.
I don’t want to debate this any more. I’ve discussed it and read about it and prayed over it…I’m sick of it. Suffice to say I found enough reason in the national church to leave my parish, a place I’ve called home for a decade.
The first time I worshipped there, I was a kid. Unmarried and stupid-young. I brought my new husband there, and then our son to be baptized. And the next one. And the next. The people there held my hand and held me up during my divorce. They’ve loved my kids and prayed for my ex. I love the people of that church.
I guess this is what an amicable divorce feels like. No one is mad, but we can’t go on together.
I think this hurts almost as much as my actual divorce.